Articles by Sean Chang
Gaps in video from dropped video frames are a common problem. A web search on the phrase “dropped video frames” turns up links oriented towards gamers, YouTube videographers and even the world of video surveillance, discussing why frame drops happen and providing advice for coping with them. On Windows computers, video frame drops are a fact of life. Much of the advice can help reduce the number of frame drops, though never completely eliminate them. If you are an amateur filmmaker, and you drop key video frames, you can always do another “take.” Not so in the 24/7 world of security surveillance. You never know which few seconds of video might be critical in determining what really happened, who was really there and who could be held liable.General use IT products like a Windows computer are architected to be event-driven and time-shared Causes of video frame drops in surveillance systems To begin to address this problem, it’s important to have a better understanding of the major causes of video frame drops in a video surveillance system. Many video surveillance systems stream the output from the video cameras over a network to an off-the-shelf computer such as a Windows machine, which acts as the video server and runs your Video Management Software (VMS). The video server stores all the video files to racks of disk drives (disk drives being an affordable choice for the large amount of storage needed in a multi-camera system). Let’s focus on these major sources of video frame drops: Video servers dropping incoming video frames when various system tasks compete for resources Disk heads in your disk drives that can’t write the incoming video files fast enough to keep up with the continuous stream of data Many integrators who use off-the-shelf Windows computers will ensure the computer is dedicated to being the video server Video processing overload General IT products like a Windows computer are architected to be event-driven and time-shared. They strive for fairness and are designed to share the processing capacity so that no single task is starved. Instead, all tasks get a smaller proportion of processing capacity. This means new events, like a keystroke or automatic start of a common “background” task or system service, can interrupt and delay ongoing tasks like the handling of your incoming video streams. In the networked world, that is usually a good choice, since the network protocols will recover by resending the data and the latency that adds is not a problem. This does not work with video. Your cameras are continuing to send new video, so even if you could resend, this would simply bog down the computer still further and cause even more frames to drop. If the CPU, memory or disk handling required by both the new event and your ongoing video processing exceeds the capacity of the computer, its default way of dealing with the overload is to drop data coming in over its network connections. Disk drives are optimised for reading and writing data quickly, generally in a variety of block sizes depending on what is being stored Dropped video frame testing Recently, we started monitoring and testing for dropped video frames on off-the-shelf Windows video servers. In our tests, just clicking on a Windows disk management command resulted in almost 4,000 frames being dropped, an 8-second gap in the video record – and as we all know, a lot can happen in 8 seconds. Even we were surprised by how often and how consistently frames were dropped, coinciding with various demands on the servers from things like background tasks. Almost always, these drops happened as a cluster, multiple seconds of contiguous video simply gone, a much more serious issue than dropping a few random frames here or there.The best solution is to use a machine and operating system that are optimised to be part of a video surveillance system Many integrators who use off-the-shelf Windows computers will ensure the computer is dedicated to being the video server, and they will try to tweak the Windows operating system to reduce the number of background tasks, like removing any third-party antivirus programs or performance programs. This reduces the number of video frame drops but does not come close to eliminating all of them. Video surveillance system solution The best solution is to use a machine and operating system that are optimised to be part of a video surveillance system, designed to funnel resources as needed to handling the incoming video streams versus attempting to share resources evenly across all tasks or dropping incoming video data when the system is overloaded. By giving priority to the incoming video data and being sized correctly for the number and type of cameras, these systems are much more robust and less prone to dropping frames. Optimising storage for surveillance The previous sections looked at how video frames get dropped before your VMS even sees them. However, frames can go missing on the other side of the system when the storage system cannot keep up with the incoming video data. Most systems use some form of disk storage; because to store all the video from multiple cameras running 24/7 can require a massive amount of storage – frequently into the terabytes – and disk storage is still affordable on this scale. Disk drives are optimised for reading and writing data quickly, generally in a variety of block sizes depending on what is being stored. If you think about a database, various data records are written once, read many times as people look up data and modified (written again). Storing the video output from multiple cameras breaks this model in several ways: The block sizes for video data are larger than typical data files The blocks are written once and very seldom read, so it is very write-intensive New files from multiple cameras are continuously coming in to be writtenWhen you need high performance and reliability from a system that faces heavy demands, off-the-shelf may simply not be good enough Avoid missing key video All these factors keep the disk head extremely busy and lead to longer seek times. Essentially, the disk head cannot write fast enough and cannot keep up with the incoming stream of video data to be stored. The result is that some video frames get dropped. By using disk systems that are optimised for video storage, you can improve your odds. Solutions that improve head seek time, consolidate multiple video files into one file to reduce the number of writes needed and find other ways for the disk head to work more efficiently can greatly reduce the chances that frames might be dropped. The off-the-shelf components that are frequently used for video surveillance systems are general purpose machines that do a decent job of supporting a small system with a minimal number of cameras. However, even in a small system with only 3 to 4 cameras, our testing has shown that video frame drop is a given, due partly to Windows’ bias to share resources among tasks and default to dropping incoming data/video streams when busy, and partly to off-the-shelf disk drives that cannot keep up with the write-intensive nature of storing video feeds. These issues are due to the size and nature of video files, but are not unique to surveillance systems. In the film industry, they too use custom machines as their video servers to handle incoming streams from their digital cameras and store those streams to custom storage hardware. When you need high performance and reliability from a system that faces heavy demands, off-the-shelf – though less expensive initially – may simply not be good enough. Only you can determine how much tolerance you have to the risk of missing key video sequences, and whether your potential liability and the risk of lawsuits is increased beyond an acceptable measure by a surveillance system that captures less than 100% of the action.
Rasilient Systems, the 17-year old Silicon Valley-based innovator in purpose-built-for-video storage solutions, debuted NFDCloud at ISC West. NFDCloud is a groundbreaking private cloud video storage solution for enterprise operations with multiple surveillance sites or branches, delivering a seismic shift in the established paradigms related to the cloud storage of video. Rasilient will be demonstrating this technology through the entirety of the show in booth #9109. The Rasilient NFDCloud solution legitimately breaks new ground in the video storage and cloud storage space NFDCloud storage solution The Rasilient NFDCloud solution legitimately breaks new ground in the video storage and cloud storage space, offering the only system to address end-to-end video quality without dropping a single frame. OpEx and/or CapEx costs for end-users are driven down in significant ways: NFDCloud from Rasilient allows for secure, centralised private cloud storage for enterprises with multiple branches or sites, increasing overall security and control over video surveillance footage data and eliminating the cost of renting cloud storage and services from third-party providers; It facilitates secure, fast, transmission without a single dropped frame—utilising Rasilient’s patented No Frames Dropped (NFD) technologies—over conventional Internet or wireless connections reducing costs associated with dedicated transmission solutions (e.g. lease lines, fiber) significantly. Notably, Rasilient’s NFD technology and benefits come at no additional cost to the customer; It is completely VMS-agnostic, unlike any other comparable solution in the marketplace, allowing customers to leverage the VMS solution that best meets their budget and unique surveillance requirements, and to centrally incorporate and store data from multiple locations, even when they use disparate VMS systems; It also reduces hardware and storage requirements for surveillance systems per branch/site. As one terabyte (TB) of storage at the edge costs more than a TB at a central site, the cost per TB for a large, centralised storage system is far less, due to economies of scale. As the management cost of a central storage site is significantly less than that of video surveillance storage at multiple sites—a cost that only goes up as the number of branches increases—NFDCloud further reduces OpEx for users. Purpose-built video surveillance solutions Rasilient’s patented NFD technology is at the heart of the company’s purpose-built video surveillance solutions, including NFDCloud Rasilient’s patented NFD technology is at the heart of the company’s purpose-built video surveillance solutions, including NFDCloud, as noted by co-Founder and President Sean Chang, “When frames are dropped, video gaps are formed creating the risk of missed key moments, something that also occurs regularly in the transmission of camera footage to display and storage hardware (no matter the frame rate). Such gaps in surveillance footage range anywhere from just over a second to as much as a few minutes." "As the vast majority of video surveillance footage is never reviewed, most gaps go undetected, or are quickly dismissed as inconsequential hiccups when found. However, dropped frames, and the video gaps they create, can have significant and dire consequences for users at the most critical of moments and render video surveillance effectively useless, and most certainly inadmissible as evidence in court. Even when the lost frames are of less consequential moments, the mere presence of video gaps can call into question the authenticity of entire video segments.” Patented NFD (No Frames Dropped) technology The dropping of frames is often a problem user “don’t know they have” until a critical “no fail” moment, but Rasilient’s NFD technology eliminates the risk permanently and affordably. Chang further noted, “At Rasilient, we’ve proudly challenged the way things are done for nearly 20 years, seeing an inconvenient and insufficient status quo as our call to innovate. This has resulted in a laser focus on building storage technologies for video surveillance, not general data, and optimising what storage solutions can do and support, in terms of our customer’s security requirements, in the process.” Cloud storage Pioneering NFD technology, Rasilient empowers true forensic grade IP surveillance for customers He adds, “NFDCloud is the natural evolution of that commitment, and something we’re excited to debut at ISC West, where the best and brightest in technological innovation for the security space is on full display. The offering is truly groundbreaking—addressing the previously unaddressed pain points that come with cloud storage for video surveillance requirements, and solving problems, such as dropped frames (covering periods ranging anywhere from seconds to minutes), that many users do not even know they have, but could prove critical failures if unaddressed.” “But perhaps its most fundamental value to the market is NFDCloud’s impact on the bottom line, the ability to benefit from secure, private, cloud storage for enterprise, utilising only conventional Internet connections, without delays, expensive infrastructure investments, or unnecessary costs for hardware and services. This is not only a barrier-busting solution, it’s a robust, scalable, and affordable one, as well.”, Chang concludes. Video storage technology For nearly 20 years, Rasilient has perfected unique, VMS-agnostic, purpose-built-for-video storage technology. Pioneering NFD technology, Rasilient empowers true forensic grade IP surveillance for customers. Architected specifically for video, not generic data, and its most specific requirements.
Rasilient Systems, Inc., the pioneer in video surveillance systems purposely architected for IP video recording, has been approved by Milestone Systems to join the System Builder Program. The partnership provides Rasilient the option to deliver its purpose-built video surveillance system hardware pre-installed with XProtect video management software (VMS) for installations with 100 or more cameras. The program enables hardware manufacturers like Rasilient to ship their server and storage solutions preloaded with the XProtect Essential+ VMS. This enables easy deployment of the Milestone award-winning VMS with just a few clicks, or rapid upgrade to one of the more advanced editions through a Milestone channel partner. Forensic-grade IP video surveillance Rasilient’s VMS agnostic technologies allow users to achieve forensic-grade IP video surveillance“We’re excited to join Milestone’s System Builder Program as we know it will greatly benefit our customers seeking a comprehensive video surveillance solution,” said Sean Chang, CEO of Rasilient Systems. “Rasilient and Milestone are trusted leaders in video surveillance and this method of delivering both hardware and software at one time provides our customers a powerful product with convenience.” Rasilient develops and manufactures storage and server products that are architected specifically for video surveillance. Rasilient’s award-winning VMS agnostic technologies allow users to achieve forensic-grade IP video surveillance for various applications without any recording gaps. A longtime Milestone Systems partner, Rasilient currently has two products that can pre-ship with the Milestone VMS: the ApplianceStor AS85R and the PixelStor 5000 series. Support for 150 cameras Rasilient’s ApplianceStor AS85R is a modular server system which packs four high performance server modules in a single 2U rack mount platform, providing unmatched performance and density. Each module can be used to integrate VMS, failover, archive, administration, and supports up to 150 cameras operating at 4 Mbps. The AS85R significantly saves cost over a separate VMS server, reduces cabling, and eliminates the ordeal of integrating VMS, OS, commodity server, and storage. The PS5000 series provides unified storage for forensic-grade video recording and AI analytics metadata The PS5000 series provides unified storage for forensic-grade video recording and AI analytics metadata. It’s the first storage system to provide uninterrupted video surveillance recording while simultaneously providing metadata to analytics servers and can store over 1000 TB. The PS5000 series is known for its patented surveillance-optimised cache technology that can scale the video recording to thousands of HD cameras without dropping a single frame of video. Applications include high-performance megapixel cameras, large video surveillance installations, and analytics metadata storage.
Rasilient Systems, Inc., the pioneer in video surveillance systems purposely architected for IP video recording, has been chosen to provide video surveillance storage solutions for Global Village Dubai, billed as the “world’s largest” tourism, leisure, shopping and entertainment project. Now entering its 21st season, Global Village Dubai is the Middle East’s first family multicultural festival park. The attraction entertains more than 5.3 million guests each season and has more than $2.2 billion AED in business transactions ($599 million American dollars). From November through April each year, Global Village Dubai visitors enjoy a shopping experience in more than 30 pavilions, 120-plus kiosks and two dozen restaurants and cafes throughout the season’s 159 days of operation. Video surveillance storage solutions “With more than five million visitors each year, Global Village Dubai required a solution that delivered high quality video recording and reliability,” said Sean Chang, CEO of Rasilient Systems. “At Rasilient, we are honored to have been chosen to provide a very important element of the overall security solution at Global Village Dubai. We designed our purpose-built video surveillance storage solutions for projects just like this.” “Our successful partnership with Rasilient means that we understand individual market demands, ensuring that we exceed expectations,” said Dr Mohammad Alketbi CEO of Forceis. When it comes to security solutions, we believe that quality counts. A 24/7 system availability can only be achieved through a robust and dynamic solution" “When it comes to security solutions, we believe that quality counts. A 24/7 system availability can only be achieved through a robust and dynamic solution.” Physical security integration services Rasilient partnered with Forceis Integrated Security Systems, a system integrator, to provide state-of-art security operation for Global Village Dubai. Forceis is an innovative forward-thinking organisation that provides expertise around physical security integration services in the United Arab Emirates. The video surveillance cameras at Global Village Dubai are managed by Milestone’s XProtect Corporate Video Management Software (VMS). Rasilient is a Milestone Systems Certified Solution Partner and together the companies have partnered in a number of successful video surveillance deployments, particularly in the growing Middle East region. “Global Village is pleased with the products and services Forceis Integrated Security Systems Offers. We have been extremely satisfied with the support provided by the technical staff and the professionalism throughout the company,” said Mansoor Salem, Senior Security Manager of Global Village. “The stability and resiliency of the Rasilient solution is impressive. System uptime is crucial to our business and we’ve had zero outages since we installed Rasilient. We are confident in our ability to rapidly scale our IT infrastructure no matter what size of customer now walks through the door.” ApplianceStor VMS storage servers The video surveillance storage solution used at Global Village Dubai includes six Rasilient ApplianceStor 74 Rack high performance VMS storage servers The video surveillance storage solution used at Global Village Dubai includes six Rasilient ApplianceStor 74 Rack high performance VMS storage servers that provide 100TB of storage. Rasilient’s ApplianceStor 74 Rack mount integrates VMS and storage into a simple-to-use, high performance video surveillance server solution. This eliminates the cost of a separate VMS server, significantly reducing cabling as well as the challenges of integrating VMS, OS, commodity server and storage. Proactive monitoring technology With Rasilient’s video surveillance storage solutions, every single camera frame is processed and recorded – what’s referred to as No Frame Drop – which is essential with the variety of security scenarios at Global Village Dubai that might call for video retrieval, said Chang. The ApplianceStor 74 is engineered to monitor its own “health” and operations to ensure that the system doesn’t fail when it’s most needed. This Proactive technology monitors the health of every disc drive in the system to enable cloning right before an actual drive failure. Global Village Dubai joins the list of the many projects Rasilient has completed in the UAE and surrounding areas over the last few years including the Zero 6 Mall that opened in April in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Rasilient Systems, Inc., the pioneer in video surveillance systems purposely architected for IP video recording, has been chosen to provide video surveillance server and storage solutions for Zero 6 Mall, the impressive new-generation shopping destination that opened in April this year in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Zero 6 is a 16,000 square-metre complex that offers a diverse selection of dining, retail and entertainment attractions. Strategically located in Al Juraina, in close proximity to prominent city landmarks like University City and Sharjah International Airport, Zero 6 celebrates Sharjah’s evolving lifestyle community experience. Security integration software “Security is always the top concern in designing and developing a popular tourist and resident destination like Zero 6 Mall. Rasilient is honored to have been chosen to help secure this impressive and unique facility,” said Sean Chang, CEO of Rasilient Systems. Rasilient worked with UAE-based system integrator Exceed Communications, LLC, on the Zero 6 Mall project. Exceed Communications is a leading provider of IT infrastructure and security system needs including network design, installation and management and video surveillance and IPTV systems. Video surveillance at Zero 6 is managed by SeeTec Video Management Software (VMS). An OnSSI Company, SeeTec is one of the leading solution providers for video surveillance in Europe. Unmatched data integrity “Video surveillance storage is critical for security point of view and we are fortunate to have the services of Rasilient Systems, which is a trusted name for unmatched data integrity and storage reliability,” said Issa Ataya, Managing Director, Alef Group. We are confident that Rasilient Systems will provide the most innovative and state-of-the-art technology for Zero 6 Mall" “Zero 6 Mall is a one-stop destination in Sharjah that appeals more to a new generation as it’s a premier lifestyle-oriented place. We are confident that Rasilient Systems will provide the most innovative and state-of-the-art technology for Zero 6 Mall,” Ataya said. Video management software Rasilient provided video surveillance storage for Zero 6 that offers unmatched data integrity, storage reliability and scalability to address future growth. Rasilient’s purpose-built technologies lower CAPEX and OPEX by extending product life expectancy and enabling scheduled maintenance instead of reactive maintenance as systems age. The video surveillance system in place at the mall provides petabytes of storage using Rasilient’s fully redundant ApplianceStor AS85R Server and PS5000 Rackmount IP Storage. Rasilient’s ApplianceStor AS85R is a modular server system which packs four high performance server modules in a single 2U rack mount platform providing unmatched performance and density. Each module can be used to integrate VMS, failover, archive, administration and access control servers in a single high density 2U system. The AS85R significantly reduces cost over a separate VMS server, reduces cabling and the ordeal of integrating VMS, OS, commodity server and storage. Because the AS85R is ideally suited for use in conjunction with Rasilient’s PS5000 Rackmount IP storage, the Zero 6 project also utilises the PS5000. Rasilient’s PS5000 Rackmount IP storage provides a simple-to-use, high performance, and large capacity video surveillance solution Large surveillance installations Rasilient’s PS5000 Rackmount IP storage provides a simple-to-use, high performance, and large capacity video surveillance solution. The purpose-built storage array is optimised for high performance megapixel and large video surveillance installations – both key characteristics of the video solution used at the Zero 6 Mall. Rasilient's patented advanced video caching technology – VAN, FlowThrough, StreamAlign – enables no recording gaps and data locking and increases read/write performance. This allows the capability of using both high resolution megapixel cameras and heavy camera loads. With Rasilient’s video surveillance storage solutions, every single camera frame is processed and recorded – which is essential for the variety of mall security scenarios that might call for video retrieval. The Rasilient system is also engineered to monitor its own “health” and operations to ensure that the system doesn’t fail when it’s most needed. This Proactive technology monitors the health of every disc drive in the system to enable cloning right before an actual drive failure. Reliable video surveillance solutions Zero 6 Mall is just one of many projects Rasilient has completed in the UAE and surrounding areas over the last few years, said Chang. “With the successful implementation of quality and reliable video surveillance solutions for projects like Zero 6, Rasilient continues its growth in the very important Middle East market,” he added.